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How Much Do Employees at a Day Care Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

People who work in day care centers are trusted to protect and nurture children – what job has higher stakes than that? But while day care workers have big responsibilities, they usually don't get paychecks that reflect those responsibilities. So, if you're thinking of becoming a child care worker, salary shouldn't be your primary motivator. Luckily, there are many other fulfilling aspects of working in a day care, like the opportunity to see young children learn and grow before your eyes.

Job Description

Day care employees are responsible for meeting all of the needs of the kids in their care. A day care worker's primary responsibility is to keep her charges safe and healthy, which means she has to be attentive and know how to respond when a child is sick or hurt.

Basically, day care employees do whatever the kids in their care need done. These workers oversee kids' meals. If they care for infants, that might mean preparing formula or heating up bottles of breast milk, then feeding and burping the babies. For older kids, day care workers might prepare and serve meals and snacks. They help children with their toilet needs, which may include changing diapers and helping potty-training children after they have accidents. They also keep children's play, sleep and eating areas clean.

Day care workers should make sure children have age-appropriate activities to do during the day. They may read books, facilitate games, take kids outside to play or arrange art projects. Workers also have to communicate with parents about their children's progress and issues and stay compliant with state and local child care regulations. The day care center's manager or owner should also be involved in all issues related to parents and government regulations, as well as overseeing things like hiring and billing.

Education Requirements

A child care worker is typically only required to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some centers might require employees to have higher degrees in childhood development, but a high school diploma is adequate in many centers. If the day care center also includes preschool classrooms, those rooms may be required to have at least some staffers with teaching certificates. The manager of a child care center is typically required to have at least a bachelor's degree.


Day care workers are often employed to work in formal day care centers, which may be independently owned or part of a larger organization. For example, large employers often have onsite day care centers for their employees to use. Some work in home day care centers, which individuals operate out of their houses. Kids who are sent to day care are typically too young for school, so day care workers primarily work with kids aged 5 and younger. Some day cares accept older children during school vacation periods.

Years of Experience and Salary

Working at a day care could be the perfect job if you love kids, but you'll never get rich doing it. The average pay for child care workers is quite low, even for those workers who have decades of experience. As of 2017, the median day care worker salary was $10.72 per hour, or $22,290 per year. Median means that half of day care employees earn more and half earn less.

The financial forecast is a little brighter for child care center directors. Their median pay was $22.54 per hour or $46,890 per year, as of 2017.

Job Growth Trend

The demand for day care workers is expected to remain steady in the coming years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a job growth rate of 7 percent for child care workers between 2016 and 2026, which is around the average rate of growth for all occupations.